SUSAN S. HUANG, MD, MPH, FIDSA, FSHEA, one of the most productive clinician-scientists working to prevent healthcare-associated infections caused by antimicrobial-resistant pathogens, is the recipient of IDSA’s 2016 Oswald Avery Award for Early Achievement. This honor recognizes members or fellows of IDSA age 45 or younger who have demonstrated outstanding achievements in an area of infectious diseases.
Dr. Huang is a professor of medicine at the University of California, Irvine, and medical director of epidemiology and infection prevention at the University of California Irvine Health. Her prolific research has focused on the clinical epidemiology, transmission dynamics, and prevention strategies for resistant organisms across different healthcare settings, with an emphasis on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant enterococci. By planning, designing, and implementing complex multicenter trials evaluating numerous strategies to prevent and control resistance, Dr. Huang has contributed significantly and rapidly to our understanding of these organisms in hospitals, long-term care settings, and the community.
Her most high-profile work has involved her leadership of clinical trials of decolonization, including the widely cited REDUCE MRSA trial, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2013. This cluster randomized trial of 43 hospitals, including 74 intensive care units (ICUs), provided strong evidence of the value of body surface decolonization in reducing MRSA and all-cause bloodstream infections. The findings have helped support national guidance recommending decolonization in ICUs. Ongoing randomized clinical trials led by Dr. Huang—designed to assess the value of routine decolonization in reducing healthcare-associated infections in non-critical care units and nursing homes, and the impact of post-discharge decolonization of MRSA colonized inpatients , including the Project CLEAR trial, the results of which are being presented at IDWeek this year—have the potential to further impact patient care practices and outcomes across the continuum of care.
Dr. Huang’s research has expanded our understanding of the transmission of resistant organisms between healthcare facilities, including the role of long-term care facilities, laying a strong foundation for developing regional approaches to prevent infections through greater synergy. Her work using complex statistical, epidemiologic, and modeling methods has also changed the way some healthcare-associated infections are tracked, impacting national standards for surveillance. Algorithms that she developed to detect surgical-site infections, for example, have been adopted by Medicare and several states, including California. In addition, her studies have systematically studied the cost-effectiveness of different interventions, as well as the ethics and conduct of quality-improvement research.
The author of more than 135 peer-reviewed publications, with half published in the last three years, many in high impact journals, Dr. Huang received the Emanuel Wolinsky Award for the most outstanding clinical study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases in 2006. The study found that routine surveillance for MRSA in ICUs allowed earlier initiation of contact isolation precautions and was associated with large reductions in the incidence of MRSA bacteremia in ICUs and in the rest of the hospital. Dr. Huang has received several additional honors, including a Clinical Research Forum Distinguished Clinical Research Achievement Award in 2014.
Invited to speak widely throughout the U.S. and internationally about her work, Dr. Huang has participated extensively in the development and review of national guidelines providing far-reaching recommendations for the prevention, control, and surveillance of healthcare-associated infections. A grant reviewer for the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, she has served on numerous state and national committees, including the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC), which advises the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on issues related to infection prevention and control.
Active in both SHEA and IDSA, Dr. Huang has served on multiple SHEA committees and task forces and as an academic councilor, and received the SHEA Investigator Award in 2012 and SHEA Top Abstract honors in 2012 and 2015. A member of IDSA’s Antimicrobial Resistance Committee since 2013, she has also served on the IDWeek Program Committee.
Dr. Huang earned a medical degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a master of public health degree in quantitative methods from the Harvard School of Public Health. She completed her residency at the University of California, San Francisco, followed by fellowship training in infectious diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital. After joining the faculty at Harvard Medical School, she was recruited by the University of California, Irvine, where she rose from assistant professor to associate professor to full professor in seven years. Dr. Huang continues to care for patients, attending on the infectious disease consult service one month per year, and is an effective mentor for undergraduates, graduate students, ID fellows, and junior faculty members.
In recognition of her dramatic impact on the academic and practical approach to the prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections caused by drug-resistant pathogens, IDSA is proud to honor Dr. Huang with the 2016 Oswald Avery Award for Early Achievement.
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